Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  06/16/2008
Date Climbed:   06/15/2008
Author:  James Scott
 Lost on Linsdey  

I had been hearing that the snow on Lindsey was melting, and might be willing to let us summit without snow gear. My friend Janelle and I decided on Lindsey (only 8 miles) over Harvard & Columbia (13+) because it sounded like the easier day. Big mistake. We got off route no less than six times, and even took a wrong turn getting back to Gardner on the way home. The whole thing took nearly 12 hours. Lindsey didn't give up easily.

I picked up Janelle at 12:30AM in Denver and we made the trailhead about 4:30. The tree that had been blocking the trailhead was gone, and the road, at times rough, wasn't as bad as we thought it'd be. We started the climb at 4:45.

We first got lost in the many river crossings when what had been a strong trail turned into what looked like a stream fisherman's trail. We backtracked, and even walked across the valley looking for the stronger trail, but never found it. Eventually we found the sign for Lily Lake trail, and were back on track. Image Blanca looked incredible in the early morning light, and we felt confident. It didn't last long. Image

Crossing the river was awful- no bridge, so we just sucked it up and waded, freezing water up above our knees. Immediately after crossing the river, we lost the trail again, and went back and forth along the river before finding the gully that leads up toward the upper basin. Image The snow was very hard, and we had no crampons, so we elected to go up into the rock field above the gully. It was slow and we lost the trail once again. Finally arriving in the upper basin, nothing looked like the pictures we had seen, and we wondered if we entered the wrong drainage. Finally we got far enough to identify the iron nipple and see Lindsey poking over the saddle. Image We found the trail once again and continued on, feeling like the worst was behind us.

There was a lot of snow in the basin, but it wasn't entirely covered. We didn't use our snowshoes, and pushed up the shoulder to the saddle to rest and have a bite to eat. We got to the saddle at 8:30. Image

The coulior was full of snow, and looked steep, so we got on the ridge to attempt the class 4 Northwest ridge. Of course, keeping with our theme of crappy route finding, we got to the short knife edge just before the crux (three small peaks), and had to backtrack down and over to get around it. The climbing on the crux was fun, with just enough fear to keep Janelle and I very focused. It was not too hard to find a route through it. This passage was the funnest part of the day for me. It spilled us out onto the summit ridge, and Lindsey was ours! Image Image Image We arrived at about 10:00, and spent 15 minutes admiring the views. The summit was beautiful- the Blanca group so close, Crestones in the not so far distance, and nothing but dark blue skies. Amazing!

We thought we'd have an easier time getting down through the class 2+ coulior, which was a huuuuge mistake. We went down far too far to the south, which created a situation where we went half way down, and then circled probably 40% of Lindsey, over talus fields and snowfields which were now warm enough for some pretty frustrating postholing. Rib after rib we crossed, thinking the next one would reveal the saddle and a way off of this mountain. It took nearly three hours to finally get back to the saddle, and it really tried our patience. The marmots on Lindsey learned some new words for sure! If you hear them screaming profanity, I'm to blame. Here's one such gully view we had to cross on the way. Image Here's Janelle finally relaxing at the saddle. Image

The rest of the way down we were able to keep to the trail for the most part, until it left the river way toward the bottom. We continued too far, and ended up bushwacking yet again along the river looking to pick it back up. By now, with all the soft snow fields we had crossed getting down, our feet were making gurgling noises each step, so crossing the river didn't matter. We finally got back to the car at 3:30, meaning this "short" 8 mile hike took over 11 hours. Still, for all the walk ups and easy days, we agreed that this would be a mountain we'd remember for all the obstacles we had to overcome. A little of everything, and all told, a great day!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

06/16/2008 19:08
When I climbed Lindsey a couple years ago, I was behind my two partners when we got to those knife points. We went right over them, the points were easy, the downclimb after them spooked me a bit! We also descended the face and you‘re right - it‘s so crappy! Rotten snow EVERYWHERE! I enjoyed your report!


06/17/2008 01:33
I plan to solo Lindsey this Friday and was getting a little concerned at the lack of recent info, so thank you for posting your honest report about how tough the routefinding can be (I have seen that on other reports, so you are not alone) in snowmelt season. I‘ll be sure to print maps and some pictures to keep my day as short as practical, and I‘ll shoot for getting lost 3 times or less!


06/17/2008 19:40
Having been turned back on the ridge just short of the headwall in late May, I have to envy you! Losing the trail seems to be a persistent problem: Looking at the map in Dawson‘s guidebook, it seems like the trail actually goes up the west side of the Nipple Creek drainage. And I certainly agree about the temptation of the couloir. The exposure on the ridge is a better choice, in either direction.

James Scott

06/17/2008 22:18
There was another group that turned back on Sunday as well. We felt fortunate. As for the trail, between Dawson, Roach, and Bill‘s description here on 14ers, I thought getting off route impossible. The overall route- crossing the river, finding the right drainage, then the basin, saddle, and summit was always fairly clear. The details were so confusing- I still don‘t think I could keep to the path the whole way up if I tried again tomorrow. Here‘s the ”no duh lesson of the day”: covering a path with snow makes it tricky to follow!

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